Net Nanny fails to shield kids from "bad" sites

By agencies   |   Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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LONDON: "NANNY" computer software, intended to shield children from offensive Internet content, often fails to protect them from viewing pornographic and racist websites.

The British consumer magazine Computing, Which? gave two programs, Norton Internet Security 2005 and Microsoft's MSN Premium, scores of below 35 percent across a series of tests.

Nanny software is a popular way for parents to control what information can be accessed, using blacklists of proscribed websites. "Software can help make the internet a safer environment for children, but there's no substitute for parental involvement," Sarah Kidner, acting editor of Computing Which said.

Neither Microsoft nor Symantec, which makes the Norton program, commented on the findings.

Although such programs are suites of security and monitoring applications, they are used by many as a way of keeping tabs on Internet use.

Kidner advised that parents take a more practical role in their family's use of the Internet, and that they should choose programs that allow them to create "whitelists" of approved sites, rather than relying on the intervention of filtering systems.

"Parents need to take an active role in monitoring what their children are looking at online, so they don't inadvertently put them at risk," Kidner said.

Control over the information children can access is becoming an increasingly important issue for many families, as the spread of technologies such as broadband Internet access and 3G mobile phones continues.

Last week the chairman of the mobile phone manufacturer Motorola, Edward Zander, said that parents should be concerned about what their children accessed on their phones.

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